A perfect preseason for the New England Patriots is already out of the question. But that’s not the question that would draw the ire of Bill Belichick.
Will the Patriots go 16-0 in the regular season? It would not be wise to ask the cranky coach. There are some naive media types who believe perfection is likely to happen, even while mathematician types show the probability seems absurd and oddsmakers also deem it highly unlikely.
“There has been so much hype in the media about the Patriots going undefeated,” Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito said. “It seems to be premature and ridiculous talk. But we figured we would put up a prop, and I think it’s a good prop.”
Station Casinos posted odds on each of the Patriots’ 16 games — when they might suffer their first loss of the season — followed by 25-1 odds on an undefeated season.
It is possible that New England will go off as the favorite in all 16 games, yet winning all of those games is an entirely different matter.
The betting markets are set on this issue. The Patriots’ regular-season win total is 12½ at Las Vegas books, so that’s where oddsmakers are drawing the line.
Of course, there is a more idealistic view. After going 14-2 and picking up a fifth Super Bowl title, the Patriots appeared to improve in the offseason.
Tom Brady, who passed for 28 touchdowns with two interceptions last season, looks as sharp as ever. He’s got a new speed receiver in Brandin Cooks, and tight end Rob Gronkowski is healthy, at least for now. Belichick is bringing back most of the key players from the NFL’s No. 1 scoring defense. On paper, it all looks positive, and this is a team that rarely disappoints in the face of soaring expectations.
“Brady has a lot of weapons at his disposal,” Esposito said. “The Patriots made a lot of good moves in the offseason.
“But anything can happen. Brady could get hurt. There are four or five challenging games on their schedule. That first game against Kansas City is not a cakewalk. In that league, it’s obviously really tough to go undefeated.”
New England fell as a favorite in its preseason opener to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, but Brady sat out as Belichick rested several starters in an irrelevant exhibition.
If the Patriots get through the first two months at 8-0, here’s what becomes most relevant: From Nov. 12 to Dec. 17, five of their six games are away from home. There is game against Oakland in Mexico City plus road tests at Denver, Buffalo, Miami and Pittsburgh.
New England Patriots’ first loss?
(Odds posted at Station Casinos)
Kansas City Chiefs 3-1
@ New Orleans Saints 5-2
Houston Texans 6-1
Carolina Panthers 7-1
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-1
@ New York Jets 15-1
Atlanta Falcons 10-1
Los Angeles Chargers 22-1
@ Denver Broncos 12-1
Oakland Raiders 12-1 (@ Mexico City)
Miami Dolphins 75-1
@ Buffalo Bills 50-1
@ Miami Dolphins 60-1
@ Pittsburgh Steelers 30-1
Buffalo Bills 100-1
New York Jets 125-1
*Undefeated regular season 25-1